STEM: The route to many wonders
There are an assortment of opportunities available to STEM students, some of which were addressed in the 2nd panel for Alternative Careers in science and engineering. Four panellists, whose jobs ranged from a chocolate scientist to a patent examiner, shared their experiences in their current positions as well as their journeys and some key tips for entering the workforce. If you are unsure of what’s the next step or having a difficult time finding a graduate job, this blog may have a few hints for you.
When stepping into the world of work it’s important to be willing to take risks. Rosie Brown was able to secure a position at Interactive Scientific, a start-up which aims to open up science to the world with their scientific exploration product, because she accepted their initial internship offer despite looking for a graduate role. Her risk paid off as she was offered a full-time role at the end of the internship and is now working as a Junior Commercial Project Manager. Tania Wright also benefited from stepping out of her comfort zone when she left her job in financial services and applied for a graduate role with CQC. Putting yourself out there can expose you to opportunities which can give you a better idea of what you enjoy and can take you to unexpected positions which you would have not found otherwise.
Finding a job is not the finishing line, it’s the beginning of your career. Remember you can leave your position in search of new opportunities both outside the company you’re for working and internally. Horizontal and vertical progression can help increase your skill set and allow you to grow professionally. Tom Roe highlighted the openings for horizontal progression whilst working in a large company whereas Rosie Brown explained the various responsibilities she has taken on due to working in a small company. You still gain work experience whilst in your full-time job, experience which can help pave the way to your next role.
Rejections are an unfortunate part of the application process. Although these can be difficult, it’s important to realise they hold value as they build your resilience and can highlight areas to work on if you’re able to get feedback. To lighten the blow, avoid assuming acceptance until the contract comes through. The assumption can make way for complacency on top of knocking you down. There are many firms to apply to and join so remember to keep an open mind about where you want to end up.
When looking for an alternative career remember the value of transferable skills, which assisted Dr Kerri Stenning in achieving her role as a Patent Examiner with her background in Chemistry. This buzzword has real connotations as they show what you have beyond your degree which can really be applicable to the role you are applying for. Being tenacious can help you get your foot in the door as the impression you make on the employees of the company increase your memorability. Also remember meeting people at networking event cannot help you if you don’t follow up. Whether it be by email, LinkedIn or another form of contact they offer you, make sure to get back in contact.
Be bold, be open, be flexible and just see what happens.